Some 58% of Coast Guard civilian employees are veterans. Many of them have brought their diverse skills and experience to the Coast Guard Office of Research, Development, Test & Evaluation (RDT&E) and Innovation in New London, Connecticut.
In honor of Veterans Day, here are a few of their stories:
Kellie August currently serves as the command executive assistant at the RDC and is responsible for a myriad of duties including processing correspondence and awards, preparing the Plan of Week, managing calendars and meetings and coordinating VIP visits. She has been with the Coast Guard for 12.5 years.
Describe your military service: I served in the Navy from April 1986 to February 1994 as a personnelman second class. I processed actions for enlisted active duty members such as receipts, transfers, re-enlistments, retirements, and pay actions.
Why did you join the military/choose your branch of service? I wanted an opportunity to travel and relocate from the Midwest. My father was World War II Navy and I followed in his footsteps.
What impacted you most during your service? Working overseas and learning about different cultures.
After leaving the service, why did you decide to work for the Coast Guard? I wanted to become a federal employee to be able to apply my active duty years toward retirement. I was laid off from a civilian job at Pfizer and was offered a temporary assignment at the Coast Guard Academy. I found it a wonderful place to work and was fortunate to find a permanent assignment!
What does your military service bring to your current position? Respect for authority and chain of command, attention to detail, importance of following process and an understanding of the importance of diversity and inclusion.
Jeffrey Dietzman currently serves as the RDT&E and Innovation program’s test and evaluation specialist for boat and non-major acquisition programs. He is also responsible for evaluating new assets the Coast Guard is buying to ensure they meet all required specifications. He has been with the Coast Guard for 18 months as a civilian and a total of 33 years and counting.
Describe your military service: Served in the U.S. Coast Guard for 30 years, retiring at the rank of master chief petty officer. Main duties during time in service included law enforcement to include counter narcotics and marine safety). I was an engineering petty officer at two commands, and command senior enlisted adviser at three commands.
Why did you join the military/choose your branch of service? A sense of duty. I was originally going to join the U.S. Air Force but saw a commercial for the U.S. Coast Guard combatting illegal drugs and the Exxon Valdez environmental response in Alaska. My nearest Coast Guard recruiter was two and a half hours away, and I had to wait five months to attend basic training.
What impacted you most during your service? I think it was the humanitarian mission that I was involved in during the mass exodus from Haiti and Cuba in the 1990s and Haiti again in the 2000s.
After leaving the service, why did you decide to work for the Coast Guard? I was offered an opportunity to retire from the Coast Guard and come back as a contractor. I was fortunate enough to be able to apply for a government civilian position.
What does your military service bring to your current position? Operational experience to ensure that the uniformed personnel are getting the proper equipment to execute the mission down range.
Robert Riley currently serves as the chief of the Information Technology, Networks and Full Spectrum Cyber Branch at the RDC. Working through a team of project managers, he strategically assesses the current and future state of information technology-related needs to include infrastructure across the service with specific focus on technology’s impact on 11 mission areas. He has been with the Coast Guard for nearly three years.
Describe your military service: 26.5 years naval service, 11.5 of which was at sea or forward deployed. Initially served as a navigation electronic technician and qualified in submarines, was later commissioned as a surface warfare officer via Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps. Served as an anti-submarine warfare officer and amphibious operations planner for Commander Amphibious Squadron Eleven. Worked directly with 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit in planning and execution of military exercises/operations with international partners. Lateral transferred to cryptologic warfare/information warfare officer field for the last 14 years of military service. As a cryptologic warfare officer, I worked in intelligence, information operations, cyberwarfare and signals intelligence.
Why did you join the military/choose your branch of service? My family has multigenerational service. I also wanted to see the world and not accrue college debt. I chose the Navy because it typically travels the globe.
What impacted you most during your service? Separation from family, of course, but I have always been laser-focused on the mission of making the world a better place. In summary, giving back and paying forward.
After leaving the service, why did you decide to work for the Coast Guard? The Coast Guard offered a unique opportunity to apply my joint knowledge and experience to grow and develop its IT and cyber capabilities.
What does your military service bring to your current position? Deep joint operational knowledge and experience and expertise across a broad range of technologies that bridge all of C5I and Coast Guard operations in general. I also bring strategic planning and policy experience.
Eric Pinkney currently serves as a C5ISR test and evaluation specialist with the RDT&E and Innovation program. He provides support advising and assisting the program managers and program management offices with reviewing and developing programmatic documentation, supporting the various integrated program team meetings and supporting onsite test and evaluation events. He has been with the Coast Guard for more than 16 years.
Describe your military service: I completed a 20-year career in the U.S. Navy as a data systems technician. I was responsible for performing preventive and corrective maintenance on Navy automated data processing/IT systems, intel systems and Combat Tactical computer/peripheral local area network and advanced display systems. I spent approximately 11 years on surface combatant ships, two shore tours and the last four years of my career were spent serving on the admiral’s staff at Commander Operational Test and Evaluation Force as an operational test director.
Why did you join the military/choose your branch of service? My reason for joining the military was to serve in the capacity of working with military computer systems. I chose the Navy because they had the best opportunities for success.
What impacted you most during your service? The greatest impact during my military career was the work experience and ability to contribute significantly as well as the experience of traveling around the globe and meeting people from all over the world. I believe these experiences helped shape me both personally and professionally.
After leaving the service, why did you decide to work for the Coast Guard? It was the opportunity to contribute to and participate in a major undertaking in the recapitalization of the U.S. Coast Guard’s assets and enhance its capabilities.
What does your military service bring to your current position? My military service and experiences were an immediate fit for the Coast Guard because I was already familiar with some of the same systems, policies and procedures and that allowed me to contribute right away.
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